Consumer Gadgets Needs To Think Sustainability Seriously

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by: Idris Mootee

In two weeks (May 19), Material ConneXion and Li Edelkoort partner to bring to life LEFT/BRAIN/RIGHT, an event on the greening of architecture and design. The event will discuss the sustainable materials and technologies that are transforming design today and tomorrow. In Greening Perspectives 2010, trend forecaster Li Edelkoort will offer an emotional and human perspective on how green thinking is changing the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

The green movement has taken off significantly in virtually every industry but I still wonder the real impact to date. Think about hybrids, alternative energy, and green design and architecture. Consumer interest in greener goods has retailers scrambling to fill their shelves with sustainable products in almost every category although I question many of these so claimed green products. Even Wal-Mart’s announced that in 08 their buyers will begin evaluating consumer electronics products with sustainability scorecard the $150 billion dollar consumer electronics industry is poised for rapid transformation. The electronic gadget industry should move quicker as less than 1% of these products have a sustainable design. Buying some carbon offsets and biodegradable forks hardly begins to address the environmental impacts of this industry, it is just not enough. We need to start from the drawing board.

Sadly most of these new electronic gizmos are loaded with toxins, have short life spans and are not designed for recycling. We need longer product lifetimes and modular components so we can upgrade instead of thro away. The opportunity horizon is wide open to leadership in green products that do more than incremental energy efficiency or recyclability,  Here’s an example, designer Tom Kenworthy has come up with a Sustainable Flash Memory Card Holder that is made from recycled vending cups. A single holder requires seven plastic cups to construct, and best of all is, you will help reduce the amount of waste in our environment while holding the plethora of memory cards that are currently floating around the market. I guess it all depends on your creativity on how you want it to look like.

Here’s a sustainable PC. A computer with smaller motherboard that means less toxin – Like most electronics the product contains elements which can be environmentally damaging, but since it’s 16% the size of a standard motherboard, there’s a lot less damage. Everything is made on one assembly line, reducing the amount of carbon emissions needed to produce this workstation. This PC requires next to zero technical know-how. It is available with portable solar panel, low-power LCD, and 14 hour battery that can be deployed anywhere. Are you ready for this?

I am convinced that there are plenty of opportunities for the consumer electronics industry to go green and big opportunity exists for companies that position their products to meet the global shift towards sustainable products and socially responsible supply chain practices. Green is the new black, in fact it is more than the new black.

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